What an interesting Friday night tasting: near darkness with the whurring of our generator in the background and Tropical Storm Isabel just finishing her tree pruning.
Distinguishing color between the 1996 and the 1997 in the diminished light of was not overly easy. Neither vintage had as much of the orange rim that you tend to see in Barolos. The 1996 was in actuality a shade darker, but both were medium ruby.
Both wines were as similar as you might expect, so I'll focus on the differences. The 1996 was more bold and concentrated. The 1996 tasted more of darker red and black fruit with subtle leathery notes. The 1997 was more polished, more straight-forward, and smooth. Compared to the 1996 the 1997 almost tasted fat.
I'd give the 1996 94 points and the 1997 93 points simply because the 1996 was more interesting. Neither bottle blasted us with tannins. I'd say they are inside their drinking window, especially so with the 1997. Both were delicious!